Edna Mary Penny Wells died last week in St Louis, Missouri, just a few days shy of her 67th birthday. She was the daughter of Edna Mary Micheau of St Louis and the late Ralph Penny; and the granddaughter of the late Joseph Perry Micheau and Edna Lewis.
She was the third generation daughter named Edna and hence she was nicknamed “Li’l Ed.” She hated that nickname, yet it stuck until her death.
Edna Mary Penny was born on April 27, 1941 in St Louis, the eldest of four children. She was quite a talented child, learning the piano as very young child. She could play at a professional level by age seven, and as a teenager, the sounds of Gershwin as well as the classics wafted from her room as she played. But for reasons known only to her, she did not pursue music much past her teens.
The great influence in her life was her husband, Bill Wells. They were married for over thirty years until his death in 2006. A gregarious and likable police officer, Bill nurtured her dreams. Her family believes that a broken heart may have been a major factor in her death.
Edna Mary was interested in many things, among them, genealogy. She was among the early group to use the Internet for genealogical research and she was exploring DNA as early as 1997–unusual for someone without a science background. She was the person who first discovered the story of her great-grandfather’s family’s escape from slavery, recounted here in part. She joined us on our research trip last summer when we went to Prairie du Rocher, Illinois.
Intelligent and beautiful, Edna Mary was not an easy person to get to know. And near the end, she seemed push her family and friends away, as if she was saying, “Don’t stand in the way of my journey.” But taking charge of Edna Mary’s apartment this week, her sister said she found ample evidence that many people loved and cared about Edna Mary, and they don’t understand why she had to die alone.
Edna Mary Penny Wells is survived by her mother, Edna Micheau Penny; a brother, Claude Penny of Dallas, and a sister, Margarett Penny Manson, of Carmichael, California. Other survivors include her two aunts, numerous cousins, and nieces and nephews.
May 1, 2008 Thursday at 2:25 am